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Expert-based ex-ante assessments of potential social, ecological, and economic impacts of upgrading strategies for improving food security in rural Tanzania using the ScalA-FS approach

Abstract

Subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are highly vulnerable to food insecurity given their low adaptive capacity against ecological and socio-economic shocks. Therefore, food security is one of their main challenges. Participatory action research across food value chains (FVCs) can help stabilize and enhance food security by developing upgrading strategies (UPS) that enhance specific aspects of crop production, post-harvest processing, marketing, income generation, and consumption. However, prior to their widespread adoption or upscaling, UPS need holistic understandings of their potential social, ecological, economic, and institutional challenges and opportunities in target areas. This article reports the application of the “ScalA-FS” tool, which assessed the potential success of selected UPS using assessment criteria developed by agricultural scientists and local farmers in a participatory process in Tanzania. This work is embedded in a larger participatory research project conducted in semi-arid and sub-humid ecological settings of the Dodoma and Morogoro regions of Tanzania. Results from the assessment of the potential impact of the UPS differed strongly between the UPS and the social, economic and environmental assessment criteria, but only slightly between semi-arid and sub-humid regions. The positive impacts of food-securing UPS centre on productivity and income generation. Rain water harvesting, fertilizer micro-dosing, optimized weeding, and promotion of kitchen gardens were expected to have the highest impacts after implementation. The ScalA-FS ex-ante assessments provide a knowledge base about potential impacts, as well as the potential bottlenecks to address during the implementation of UPS.

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Acknowledgements

This publication is a product of the Trans-SEC (www.trans-sec.org) project and Food Security Africa (FSA). The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funded the Trans-SEC project, with co-finance from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and may not under any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the BMBF and BMZ. The Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) financed the FSA project. Thanks to P. Ngwenya for revising the English of this article and to all Trans-SEC colleagues for their input into the assessment.

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Graef, F., Uckert, G., Schindler, J. et al. Expert-based ex-ante assessments of potential social, ecological, and economic impacts of upgrading strategies for improving food security in rural Tanzania using the ScalA-FS approach. Food Sec. 9, 1255–1270 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-016-0639-x

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Keywords

  • Upgrading strategies
  • Ex-ante impact assessment
  • ScalA-FS
  • Food security
  • Food value chains
  • Tanzania